Homecoming originated with a dream of Mrs. Alice Harris. She visualized
a club of former members of Williams Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church residing
in NY City that could raise funds to help with some of the projects needed
for the home church in Williamston, NC. About 1953, several of the former
members of Williams Chapel gladly consented to be a part of this fellowship.
Some of these charter members were Mr. S.L. Andrews, Mrs. Fannie Howell,
Mrs. Amanda Willford, Mrs. Willie Jones, and Mrs. Elizabeth Jones.
The first Annual Reunion was held at the Mother Church, Mother Zion Church in NY City on the second Sunday in July of 1955. The first President was Mr. S.L. Andrews. Each year the number of persons attending the reunion increased along with the members and guests from various cities, especially Philadelphia PA and New Haven CT. During these annual reunions the Philadelphia guests organized the Williams Chapel Social Aide Club and in July 1957 invited the NY club to attend the first reunion at Popular Street A.M.E. Zion Church. Some of their members included Rev. George Rice - President, Mrs. Sue Latham, Mr. Louis Slade, and Mrs. Verlin Davis. It was at this reunion that Mrs. Alice Harris, who had visualized an even greater fellowship, "Homecoming", requested the Philadelphia club to join the NY club in this celebration.
The first "Homecoming" was held the 3rd Sunday in September in 1958 in Williamston NC. Down through the years as the celebration grew, other churches and groups were organized in NY and NJ. The Mount Shiloh Baptist Circle of Greater NY was organized in 1972 by Rev. Churne Lloyd, Mrs. Nan Harris, Mrs. Mabel Halstead and Mr. Roscoe Harris. The Cornerstone Baptist Church Club of NJ was organized in 1972 by Mr. Harry Norfleet, Mrs. Mildred Lloyd, and Mr. Cleveland Jones, who also represents the Barnabas Baptist Church of Williamston.
Many other former church members and friends come from Frederick, MD headed by Mr. Essex Wilson; Baltimore, MD headed by Mrs. Odessa Wright, and Philadelphia, PA headed by Mrs. Belle Goss. From 1958 to the late 90s, each "Homecoming" has been an exciting experience for all that took part! It was around the late 90s that the homecoming started disintegrating. Most of the leaders were getting up in age and of course not as active as they wanted to be.
In 2003 a new generation of home comers wanted to bring "Homecoming" back to life. Members of this committee included hometowners Errol Ausborn, LaShanda Brown, Tracie Jones, Karen Riddick, Michelle Riddick, Pamela Riddick, and Barbara Williams. 2003 was the first homecoming under the new committee. Due to Hurricane Floyd, all events planned could not go on. The 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament however did go on, and what a great day it was!
Each year this group has diligently and creatively put together events such as the Meet and Greet, Tailgate, Parades, Themed Party Extravaganzas, and Basketball and Softball Tournaments. Additionally, there have been raffle prizes given, homecoming Queens and Kings, and official community t-shirts. The Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship was also started in 2005. A high school senior is selected and given $1,000 towards their tuition to an accredited university. So far we have given out 15 scholarships!
"Homecoming" has trickled into the community as well as other surrounding cities. Each year we look forward to bringing family and friends back together and creating new memories!
The tradition lives on!